By Andrea Cionci
Originally published in in the Italian Daily Newspaper Libero onJune 11, 2020
For the past few days there has been discussion on the internet about the critique made of Benedict XVI’s resignation from the papacy by an Italian-American Franciscan Latinist who is an expert in Scholastic texts and in canonical argumentation about the papal resignation. Brother Alexis Bugnolo, who has translated over 9000 pages of Saint Bonaventure from the original Latin and has a mastery of the Church’s language as few others, was interviewed on YouTube by Decimo Toro.
Through an attentive reading of the text of Benedict XVI’s Declaratio of resignation, following a thread of logic, canon law, and the meaning of the original Latin, Brother Bugnolo maintains that the text was written by Benedict, with extreme skill and subtlety, intending that it would eventually be discovered to be invalid. By so doing, Ratzinger permitted the “Saint Gallen Mafia,” the Masonic-progressive ecclesiastical lobby that forced him to abdicate, to take power hastily and so reveal itself. Benedict resigned in such a way that all of the acts, appointments, and changes in doctrine done by the “false church” can eventually be swept away in one fell swoop precisely because of the invalidity of his resignation from the papacy.
For this reason, according to Brother Bugnolo, the Vatican has deliberately falsified the translations of Benedict’s Latin Declaratio, attempting to remedy his intentional flaws in the original text, but in fact thus demonstrating further malice. Forty years ago, John Paul II and then-Cardinal Ratzinger already knew, thanks to the Third Secret of Fatima, that the gay-Masonic lobby of clergy would attempt to seize power, and for this reason they changed the Code of Canon Law in time, setting up an emergency system to “break the bank” in case of usurpation. This, in essence, is Bugnolo’s thesis.
In order to prevent accusations that his reconstruction of events is a conspiracy theory, Brother Alexis cites only the documents from the Vatican website that we have attached below. All of them may be checked at the Vatican website.
It is quite clear that the text of Benedict’s Declaratio contains a number of huge grammatical errors, which were already noted in 2013 by eminent classicists such as Luciano Canfora and Wilfried Stroh. The lack of the majestic plural “nos” which is always used in official documents is already surprising, but Brother Bugnolo, who has translated more than 9000 pages of Saint Bonaventure, has identified forty other linguistic imperfections: verbs that are wrongly declined, “decisionem” being used in place of the correct “consilium,” “vobis” in place of “vobiscum,” the erroneous use of “explorata” to say “investigated,” etc. The complete list may be seen here.
But the biggest problem is the construction of Ratzinger’s text that renders the papal resignation invalid. Since it was reformed by John Paul II and Ratzinger in 1983, the Code of Canon Law requires the resignation of the “munus petrino” – the office, the charge of the papacy that comes from God and from Saint Peter. (Previously, the pope only had to say “renuntio” – “I resign” – and the 1983 modification to the requirement was probably added in order to reinforce possible future papal abdications).
In his Declaratio, Ratzinger writes that his strength, due to advancing age, “is no longer suitable for adequately exercising the munus petrino.” However, he does not say at all that he is renouncing it, but rather, “well aware of the gravity of this act, I declare to renounce the ministry [that is, the exercise] of Bishop of Rome – [declaro me MINISTERIO Episcopi Romae…renuntiare]. Thus at the beginning of the Declaratio he cites the munus in a generic way, but then he formally declares to renounce only the ministerium, which according to many experts is completely useless for the validity of the act. It would be as if a king who was abdicating would say that he is renouncing the exercise of his power without renouncing the throne he obtained by divine right.
Among other things, Ratzinger does not even write “renuntio” but rather “declaro renuntiare,” which does not imply that his resignation is sincere, just as “declaring to love” does not necessarily correspond to “love.” Supposing that Benedict was subjected to pressure – faced with a choice, for example, of either resigning or having the Vatican go bankrupt (on this, refer to the well-known affair of the Vatican SWIFT code being cancelled and the blocking of Vatican bank accounts that occurred in the weeks preceding the resignation in 2013) – he could have freely chosen to “declare to resign” – which is much different than saying “I freely resign.”
Another question raised by Bugnolo: Why did Ratzinger write that the See would be vacant after 18 days? The act of resignation should render the See vacant either from the moment of either the death or the act of resignation of the pope.
The argument over the word “munus” is not new, and it has been amply addressed by Vittorio Messori, Antonio Socci, and other authoritative Vaticanists. But now Brother Alexis, for the first time, has divulged that in all of the translations of the Declaratio (on the Vatican web site), the word munus is also translated as “ministry,” thus bringing together into one meaning two prerogatives that canon law clearly distinguishes. Brother Bugnolo explains: “Who authorized these translations? Munus should be perfectly translatable into all languages. This is the proof that the Vatican has attempted to annul the fundamental distinction that Pope Benedict, in his recent book-interview “Ein Leben,” has only newly restated, declaring that he still retains the “spiritual office” (spirituelle Zuordnung) having renounced the concrete exercise (konkrete Vollmacht). He is still the reigning pontiff and he continues to wear the white robe, to give the Apostolic Blessing and sign his name P.P., Pontifex Pontificum, the title that belongs to the reigning pope.” (It should be recalled that the only explanation given by Ratzinger for having maintained the white papal robe was that “there were no black robes in his wardrobe.”)
In 2016, Msgr. Giuseppe Sciacca, Bishop-Secretary of the Apostolic Signatura, responded to the argments over munus in an extremely technical article that was completely incomprehensible to non-experts. “Like a clever lawyer,” Brother Bugnolo says, “Sciacca says, correctly, that the power cannot be divided between two popes, but he takes the validity of the resignation for granted and then he avoids the real question. He then says that renouncing the ministerium automatically included renouncing the munus, but in fact this is not true, because Benedict could have easily named a Vicar to manage the ministerium while maintaining his own office, the munus, which is also essential for theological and dogmatic questions, not only for canonical ones, inasmuch as it comes directly from God.”
Then there are other very strange anomalies in the translations published by the Vatican: “I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, IN SUCH A WAY, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant.” As Brother Bugnolo specifies, “In such a way” is written by Ratzinger in Latin as “ut” which however ought to be translated as “SO THAT.” In contrast, IN SUCH A WAY would properly be rendered in Latin as “quomodo.”
These are two very different things: “in such a way” presupposes the absolute legal automatism of an act-consequence relationship. In contrast, “so that” can also reveal a hidden intention or a desired effect that is generated on purpose. It is the difference between an external and natural “way” as compared to a subjective “end.”
For example, it is not correct to say: “I put the bait in the trap in such a way that the mouse may be captured,” because it is not a given that the mouse will fall for the deception. Rather, it must be said: “I put the bait in the trap so that the mouse may be captured.”
Let’s imagine for a moment that Benedict was actually forced to abdicate: he writes therefore that “he declares to resign” his “ministry” “SO THAT” the see may be vacant…thus perhaps also through the action of the usurpers. If he had actually written “in such a way” it would have implicitly admitted the validity of his resignation. But in fact, he did not.
Here is another anomaly: Why does Benedict write that the new conclave will have to be convoked “BY THOSE WHOSE COMPETENCE IT IS” and not “by you cardinals”? It sounds like a delegitimization, since it would obviously be the cardinals to whom he was speaking who would have to form the conclave. It is as if the president of the Senate, speaking about a future president of the Republic, would say that he “will have to be elected by those whose competence it is” and not, as is obvious, “by you ministers of parliament.”
Furthermore, Ratzinger does not specify the PRECISE DATE of the new, true conclave for the election of the Pontiff. He says only that it will have to be convoked AFTER THE SEE WILL BE VACANT, which is, really, the moment after his death. This is why the valid election of the new Pontiff would be, in that case, the competence only of SOME CARDINALS, the ones appointed prior to the coming of Bergoglio who are disposed to recognize the “coup” that happened. In fact the cardinals appointed by Bergoglio would not be legally valid, because they came from an invalid pope, because the resignation was invalid. In the event that many more years pass and the “legitimate” cardinals created by Benedict or John Paul II are no longer alive or active, the new Pontiff would have to be chosen by the Roman Church, as in ancient times. Seen in this light, this is why a new conclave would have to be convoked “by those whose competence it is” and not by the cardinals he is addressing. The logic is faultless.
Is this political fiction? Or is it a Declaratio that, while appearing to be botched, reveals itself to be, if read in the right way, a document of unbreakable “Ratzingerian” coherence?
Brother Bugnolo is certain: the errors in the Latin were purposely intended by Ratzinger in order to draw attention to the invalidity of the document and so that, when it was attentively read, the truth would emerge when the time was ripe. The same opinion is held by the Viennese lawyer Arthur H. Lambauer, a noted expert in international law, who had already noted the anomalies in 2013: “I believe that Benedict made mistakes on purpose in order to render his successor invalid, in such a way he would not create anything irrevocable (homosexual marriage, female diaconate, etc.) and so that, if necessary, the successor could be swept away.”
Above all, there is one objective and incontestable fact: in those strange 18 days that passed from the “resignation” to the vacant see (which, as a rule, should start from the resignation) no one was able to or wanted to correct the Declaratio written so “badly” by Benedict. Why? And yet it is the specific competence of the cardinals to correct the pope in a caring and filial way, if he is in error. “This demonstrates,” Brother Bugnolo maintains, “that the cardinals were disloyal and blinded in their haste to take power, while other officials of the Apostolic Secretariat, who certainly could not have failed to notice certain errors, were “accomplices” of Benedict who were well aware of the trick, and they remained silent so that one day “the bomb would go off.” In both cases, a usurpation is revealed.”
Let’s consider some objections: “Perhaps Ratzinger does not know Latin well enough or he was already too old to write it well.” It is difficult to believe that the German theologian, who was for fourteen years the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who is the author of outstanding writings in Latin, would not know how to master this text. Moreover, the pope is surrounded by excellent Latinists who would have been able to assist him. In February 2013 he was lucid enough to be able to give a spontaneous discourse for 58 minutes. “In any case,” Brother Alexis responds, “the invalidity would remain, because resignation requires not only full mental lucidity but also absolute awareness of canon law.”
Another possible objection is: “Perhaps someone else who does not know Latin well wrote it.” But if the document came from a coercer or a counterfeiter, why would they construct it in such a way that it would be canonically invalid?
A final possible criticism: “Benedict XVI would never deceive anyone.” In fact, Pope Benedict did not deceive anyone, he only wrote a resignation of the ministerium. According to Brother Bugnolo, there are others who have not wanted look at what was actually written and at how Benedict has comported himself since 2013. Thus, they deceived themselves out of their greed for power.
At the first reading, all of this leaves you dazed: it seems absurd, but terribly coherent. In this case, there is no point in launching the usual charge of dismissing it all as a “conspiracy theory” because there are facts here that deserve an explanation that is EQUALLY logical and coherent.
In the secular world, an inheritance can be legally challenged for far less, and yet the question of the validity of the resignation of a pope from the throne of Peter was thought to be all wrapped up very quickly, indeed perhaps too quickly. What happens next? Brother Bugnolo’s arguments are based on the evidence and also provide a motive that explains them. Perhaps they will simply be ignored and derided, or else their author will probably begin to undergo a series of attacks ad personam. We will see what happens.
Translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino @pellegrino2020
CREDITS: The Featured Image is a detail from a photograph distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license, source here.